In an experiment that will test the viability of alternative content on a full theatrical schedule, this exclusively stereoscopic presentation recorded during U2’s 2005-2006 Vertigo tour in South America breaks out of the gate playing with the form. Directed by the band’s visual content provider Catherine Owens, along with music-video director Mark Pellington, the movie combines the familiar format of concert films, amplified by the scope of the production, with the creative use of word and picture elements from the group’s singularly visual sets in the layers of the three-dimensional space.
U2 3D is all about the music, providing no informational context on the band, its history or influence and little introduction other than impressionistic footage of fans pushing through the gates and running to their seats. As such, the experience requires a mental shift on the part of the audience: Once the initial novelty of the 3D presentation wears off, a viewer without the mindset of a concert attendee could lose interest over the course of 90 minutes.
More than any other recent 3D film, including Beowulf, U2 3D flirts with the eyestrain that the format is infamous for but is careful to offset these sequences with less fatiguing footage. And, likely due to the fact that the film includes footage from concerts in Mexico City, Sao Paulo, Santiago and Buenos Aires, it’s difficult at first to get a sense of the stage and space. But, when Bono reaches into the camera and out of the screen, there are few cinematic moments more intimate.
Having viewed U2 3D in a decent-sized screening room, this reviewer looks forward to experiencing the concert film on Imax’s immersive giant screen. Still, with 5.1 surround sound, one can veritably feel the theatre pulsating with the enthusiasm of the crowd of 80,000.
Distributor: National Geographic
Cast: Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr.
Directors: Catherine Owens and Mark Pellington
Producers: Jon Shapiro, Peter Shapiro, John Modell and Catherine Owens
Genre: Musical documentary
Running time: 85 min.
Release date: January 23, 2008 ltd.